Nobel peace prize winner, education activist and one of the most influential people on the planet, 18-year-old Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai cut a striking yet humble figure at Emirates Palace on Wednesday as she spoke after the preview screening of He Named Me Malala.
Malala was targeted and shot in the head by the Taliban as she rode the school bus. Targeted because she had spoken out about the Taliban's refusal to allow girls to attend school. The documentary, directed by Davis Guggenheim and supported by UAE film producers Image Nation, tells the story of her life in Pakistan leading up to the shooting and provides an insight into how the family have resettled in the UK.
Despite not being able to return her home country, where she is still a wanted by the Taliban, she said that she will continue to spread her message of education.
"Three years have passed since I came to the UK and I haven't been able to go back. But it's my dream to be able to help my people there and continue the cause and campaign that I started in Swat Valley, when it was under terrorism. So my dream is the same to go back and help my country so every child there can get their education and I am hopeful that it will happen," she said.
The young activist wore a bright red hijab, and orange trousers and long blouse, and joked that there were some things that she didn't like about the film.
"I think Davis gave too much time to my brothers - we see too much of them," she laughed.
The documentary has a strong message of empowerment, and Image Nation are rolling out an educational programme to coincide with the release. In an interview with Time Out Dubai, CEO Michael Garrin announced that beyond theatrical releases, the film will be distributed in places where there is a real concern for children not being out of school, and is working with an organisation called Film Aid to screen the film in refugee and migrant camps.
"Every issue has different points of influence and control, and in education two things have to change- top down change, where the government need to provide facilities, and the bottom up where society's attitude has to change, families need to know the value of educating girls. Screening this film is not a complete answer to the problem but it is part of the solution."
He Named Me Malala is out in cinemas across the UAE on November 5.